Mountain View Voice

News - November 16, 2012

Bus lanes back on the table

by Daniel DeBolt

The possibility of a light rail-like bus system and new bike lanes on El Camino Real are still on the table for Mountain View after a recent VTA vote.

Board members, including Mountain View's Margaret Abe-Koga and Palo Alto's Gail Price, voted unanimously on Nov. 1 to include two options for the bus rapid transit project in an environmental impact report. It could place hybrid-powered, WiFi-equipped buses on dedicated lanes on the county's most popular bus corridor, El Camino Real.

The buses would be unhindered by car traffic or long waits at stoplights, thanks to sensors on the buses that communicate with traffic signals.

The EIR will study both a "revised" project — dedicated lanes up the center of El Camino Real in the city of Santa Clara only — as well as the "optimal" project, which would mean dedicated bus lanes from Santa Clara to Showers Drive in Mountain View. The street configuration for dedicated bus lanes would make room for the bike lanes long desired by cyclists, who see no other likely hpoe for bike lanes on El Camino Real.

The move means that the Mountain View City Council, with two newly elected members, may vote on the project again next year. Despite majority support from residents and bike and transportation advocates who spoke, the current council voted 5-2 against dedicated lanes in Mountain View in January, citing concerns about increasing traffic on side streets. Members Margaret Abe-Koga and Mike Kasperzak voted in support.

Proponents of the system say that traffic on El Camino Real will only get worse without alternatives to car travel, while opponents say traffic will get worse from removing a lane in each direction to accommodate bike and BRT lanes.

Corinne Winter, director of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, called it "a unique and unprecedented opportunity to have dedicated bike facilities paid for by the county's transit agency."

"It shocks me that local jurisdictions would not jump at this chance to revitalize their business districts along El Camino Real," Winter said. "Having dedicated bicycle facilities on this corridor will expose the businesses there to a large number of clients that are more likely than motorists to stop and shop."

The EIR will provide more information for decision makers in Mountain View and Sunnyvale, VTA officials say. The Mountain View City Council voted 4-3 against dedicated lanes earlier this year.

VTA officials say Caltrans, which has jurisdiction over El Camino Real, won't allow the dedicated lanes in cities where it is opposed.

Comments

Posted by Cuesta Resident, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Nov 15, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Removing 2 lanes for cars on El Camino would be a HUGE burden on Mountain View residents and would primarily benefit people who live in other cities.

We MV residents need El Camino for local driving where taking a bus is far too costly and time-consuming.

We should instead consider ADDING 2 NEW lanes to El Camino for buses (remove current parking on El Camino, reduce median, and if needed expand lanes). This would be a win for local driving and for people taking buses through the city, and is a much better compromise.

Alternatively, if we feel bike lanes are more important than bus lanes, then just get rid of parking on El Camino and use that space for bike lanes, while keeping all the existing car lanes.


Posted by BC, a resident of Sylvan Park
on Nov 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm

Great idea ... land lock all the cars onto El Camino and have sales service from the stores by roller skates or bicycles. We have seen the great results the VTA and the light rail has been.

El Camino is already a nightmare with the existing lanes and many of the locals residents are using alternate streets. El Camino only goes near where people want to go, so it is a convenient route to take but not to use as a transportation.

Assume you could get to the bus rote from home, Its a 1/2 mile to Sunnyvale mall, mile long walk to cal train, El Camino Hospital strangely is not on El Camino. Shoreline park not even in consideration. You would end up transferring and thus adding another 30-60 min to your commute. This also assume no one carries any packages.


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